Highlighted Games for Saturday, 1/20

Highlighted Games for Saturday, 1/20
Jan 19, 2007, 03:28 pm
Be sure and check out our Forums section throughout the day for discussions on today's games. SPOTLIGHTED GAMES

-OKLAHOMA STATE AT TEXAS A&M (***Pod System Implications***). Both of these teams could potentially make the pod system, and this game will go a long way in determining who gets the better ranking on the S Curve. Texas A&M really doesn’t have a big time win yet, although they’ve played some top notch basketball this season. Even though they’re at home, this would be considered their best win of the season so far, and most likely end up being one of their better wins all season long. As for Oklahoma State, it’s a chance to pick up a huge quality win on the road. The last big road game they played, they were blown out by Kansas, so this would be a statement that they can play on the road against top teams. Both teams even have an outside chance for a #1 seed, but they will need to absolutely dominate the rest of the year. As it stands now, both would probably be seeded #4th or better if the season ended today, but as I said before TAMU needs a big win.

-ARIZONA AT UCLA (Pac Ten) (***#1 Seed Implications***). Arizona is coming off a somewhat surprising road loss to USC, but they can more and make up for that if they can pull off a road win against a top five team like UCLA. Both of these teams are competing for a league title as well as a #1 seed, so this game is hugely important as far as that goes. It's also a very interesting matchup when you look at Arizona's explosiveness and UCLA's strong defense. They will face each other at least once more this year, and possibly a third time in the conference tournament, but the committee will closely consider all their matchups, so this one is huge.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTED GAMES. These are sorted in alphabetical order via the home team. Conference games are noted in parenthesis.

-SAN DIEGO STATE AT AIR FORCE (Mountain West). San Diego State is one of the more talented teams in the MWC, and Air Force is one of the best. SDSU is just 11-5, but they can beat anyone on any given night when they decide to show up. Air Force has had trouble getting out of the gate lately. They fell way behind to Utah in their last game and then couldn’t catch up. They are much tougher to beat at home though. Air Force is still in good shape despite losing to a sub-par Utah team, but they can’t afford too many losses.

-GEORGIA AT ALABAMA (SEC). Georgia has won three straight games, and has been playing very well the last few weeks. Alabama is still highly ranked and tough to beat at home, but they are coming off a blowout loss on the road to Vanderbilt. They need to take care of business at home if they’re going to struggle on the road, and eventually they’ll have to wins some road games if they want to get a good seed. As for Georgia, this is a chance to get another quality road win and add to their resume, which would go a long way as far as making the NCAA Tournament.

-LSU AT ARKANSAS (SEC). LSU appears to be a good team, but their credentials are somewhat lacking as far as being a team seeded #4 or better. Making the pod system would be huge considering there are first/second round games in New Orleans. They haven’t done much of anything on the road, and if they pull off a win in this game it would probably be one of their biggest on the year so far. Arkansas is coming off a disappointing loss to Georgia, and needs to rebound from that. Both teams look like solid tournament teams, so this would be a nice win for either team, as well as a conference win.

-WICHITA STATE AT BRADLEY (Missouri Valley). Bradley is on the outside looking in, but they have been playing some pretty good basketball, and as young as they are they should continue to improve as the season goes on. They are coming off a loss to Creighton and need to rebound from that and take care of business at home against a Wichita State team that is also desperate for wins. WSU is 3-7 in their last ten games and most recently lost to Illinois State, who is not an NCAA Tourney team by any means.

-WISCONSIN GREEN BAY AT BUTLER (Horizon League). Butler does have a conference loss, but they still appear to be the class of the league. They have a very good chance of making the pod system if they dominate the rest of the way.

-WEST VIRGINIA AT CINCINNATI (Big East). Cincinnati has been unimpressive overall for most of the season, but they did come from nineteen points down to nearly pull off an upset against Syracuse. Today, they host a West Virginia team that has struggled on the road all year long. WVU has been great at home, but the committee does factor in what a team does on the road, and this will likely be one of their most winnable road games the rest of the way, so they need to take care of business in this one.

-BOSTON COLLEGE AT CLEMSON. Boston College was forced to dismiss some players from the team. It doesn’t really matter that much because they hadn’t been all that impressive with those guys, so they aren’t faced with having to reprove themselves because they never really proved themselves to begin with. They are unbeaten in the ACC, but they haven’t played anyone all that good yet. That changes today. Clemson was just blown out by North Carolina for their second straight loss, but they are still a very solid team. It’s important that they win this game because they’re at home against a team they should beat, and they don’t want that losing streak to increase to three games.

-BYU AT COLORADO STATE (Mountain West). BYU’s onl-y conference loss came against UNLV, so if they can finish at or near the top of the standings they’ll get some pretty strong consideration from the selection committee. They certainly need to take care of business on the road in this one, because Colorado State is not in the tournament picture and isn’t the type of team they need to be losing to.

-INDIANA AT CONNECTICUT. Indiana is a very strong, solid team right now, and they can continue to add to their resume with a road win against Connecticut. Connecticut actually needs this one more than the Hoosiers. They don’t have any decent wins at all, and this is a chance for them to pick up an out of conference win against a quality team. They’ve done nothing that would impress the committee. Being at home should give them an advantage, but it may not be enough of an advantage. The Hoosiers keep playing better and better as the season progresses.

-APPALACHIAN STATE AT DAVIDSON (Southern Conference). Very interesting game here. These are the two best teams in the Southern Conference and both have RPIs around the high 40s/low 50s. There is a slight chance the committee will look at one of these teams if they win out and fail to win the conference tournament, but that is a long shot. This is one of the best opportunities remaining for each team to get a decent win. Both are in the Bracket Buster and both could face each other again in the Bracket Buster, but other than that the SoCon doesn’t provide many opportunities at impressive wins.

-DREXEL AT DELAWARE (Colonial Athletic). Drexel snapped a two game losing streak by blowing out Northeastern in their last game. They need to continue to take care of business against the mid to low level teams in this league if they want the committee to give them a close look. They don’t really have any poor conference losses, but their margin for error is low and they will need to win out or come close to it in order to feel safe.

-LOUISVILLE AT DE PAUL (Big East). De Paul continues to play quality basketball and keep themselves in the mix for an NCAA bid. We have a long way to go, but I currently have them around the bubble and they’ll have many opportunities to improve on that. Louisville is pretty good on some days, but for the most part they don’t look like a tournament team. They really struggle when it comes to shooting the ball, and haven’t really done much on the road. They’re coming off a loss to Marquette and need to begin stringing together some wins if they want any shot at all.

-MEMPHIS AT EAST CAROLINA (Conference USA). Memphis is one of the best C-USA teams and a solid NCAA team and East Carolina is one of the worst. Memphis should roll in this game.

-MISSISSIPPI AT FLORIDA (SEC). Ole Miss is going through a building process and although they’ve played some pretty good basketball they’ve struggled since conference play began. They have a very tall order tonight against a Florida team who is competing for a #1 seed. Florida has gotten into the habit of blowing teams out, and that could very easily continue today.

-MIAMI, FL AT FLORIDA STATE (ACC). Florida State’s stock is falling. They really need to win this game because it is against a sub-par team and it’s at home. They picked up a big win against Virginia Tech, which was their first conference win and one of their better ones on the season so far. It’s important they don’t nullify that with a loss today. FSU has, for the most part, played pretty well at home.

-CHARLOTTE AT GEORGE WASHINGTON (Atlantic Ten). George Washington is 12-4, but they’ve built that record against a rather weak schedule. They have just one conference loss, and can get the committee to look at them if they can dominate the rest of the conference season. Every game is a big game because their margin for error is so small. They definitely need to take care of business at home against Charlotte.

-WISCONSIN AT ILLINOIS (Big Ten). Illinois has been struggling this season, but they won a big game against Minnesota their last time out and played pretty well, so it may have woken them up a little bit. They have a tough game at home today, and it’s a game that could really help them out and give their resume a much needed boost if they can pull off the upset. Wisconsin still looks like a #1 seed, but they struggled at home against Purdue in their last game, and could struggle on the road against Illinois, which is always a very hostile environment. Wisconsin is solid either way and should end up in the pod system regardless of what happens. A loss today doesn’t even eliminate them from a potential #1 seed. They just can’t make a habit of it, that’s all.

-KANSAS STATE AT IOWA STATE (Big Twelve). Two teams that are currently on the outside looking in. Both teams are still within reach of making the NCAAs as an at-large caliber team, but both need to string together some wins in order to make it happen.

-VANDERBILT AT KENTUCKY (SEC). Vanderbilt could be a team to watch for. They have some big wins this season, but all of them have come at home. They haven’t been all that impressive away from home, but a win today could change that in a big way, and give their profile a much needed boost. They’re coming off a blowout win against a pretty good Alabama team, so they are capable of playing some good ball. Kentucky is on an eleven game winning streak and just keeps looking better and better. A win today will continue their momentum and sustain their resume, which is pretty solid right now.

-PURDUE AT MICHIGAN (Big Ten). Both of these teams have some work to do. Purdue has some good wins, but hasn’t won any true road games. They came close to beating Wisconsin the other night, but couldn’t get it done. Michigan’s record is impressive, but nothing else about them really is. They need to win some games just to get themselves into the picture. A win for Purdue on the road in this one would go a long way as far as helping them out as well, since that is where they’re lacking the most.

-NEVADA AT NEW MEXICO STATE (WAC). Nevada just got a big win against Fresno State, who is one of the better teams in the league. This game is huge for New Mexico State. They are on a long winning streak and have a good team, but they haven't played many quality opponents, so this is one of the few chances they have to beat a quality team. The fact that they are home should give them an advantage, but it also means that the backlash from a loss would be a little more harsh. It's a good RPI game for both teams since both have such good records.

-GEORGIA TECH AT NORTH CAROLINA (ACC). North Carolina just one a big road game against Clemson, and has been perfect at home this season. Georgia Tech has a solid resume that keeps getting better. They have improved quite a bit as the season ahs progressed and this is a great opportunity for them to boost their credentials once again. A win is a long shot, but a loss won’t hurt the Yellow Jackets all that much. A win for UNC would be yet another quality win, which is important when competing for a #1 seed.

-DUKE AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (ACC). Duke has snapped their two game losing streak with a two game winning streak, and that will likely continue after today. NC State just doesn’t appear to have all that strong of a team, so this is a chance for Duke to pick up a conference road win. The Blue Devils still look like a strong pod team and should be able to get into Winston Salem for the first/second round if they keep it up.

-INDIANA STATE AT NORTHERN IOWA (Missouri Valley). Both of these teams are close to the bubble, and really need a win. Indiana State has some big wins, but they’ve all come at home. They need to win some road games and finish at a decent place in the conference standings if they want to get serious consideration. Northern Iowa has lost two straight games and needs to snap that losing streak. This is the kind of game they need to be able to win at home if they want to be considered a solid tournament team. Indiana State is also coming off of two straight losses, and needs to turn that around if they want to stay in the bracket picture.

-IOWA AT OHIO STATE (Big Ten). Iowa has been playing better, but they still don’t look like an NCAA Tournament team. A win here would really boost their resume, but it also isn’t all that likely to happen. Ohio State looks like a solid pod team that could be seeded #2 or better. If they want to contend for a #1 seed they really can’t afford too many losses, so in that aspect every game is important.

-CALIFORNIA AT OREGON (Pac Ten). Oregon survived a big scare against Stanford, but won and are still one of the better teams in the conference, a solid pod team, and could even contend for a #1 seed if they keep it up. California is coming off a game against Oregon State that they really needed to win, but this is a much taller order.

-STANFORD AT OREGON STATE (Pac Ten). Stanford is playing some pretty good basketball, and even though they lost at Oregon in their last game, they still played very well and have shown that they can be a dangerous team. They need to rebound from that and focus on beating an Oregon State team, who is decent, but not an NCAA caliber team. Stanford is lacking in terms of quality wins, and they don't wan to drop a game like this.

-MICHIGAN STATE AT PENN STATE (Big Ten). Michigan State is currently on the outside of the bubble in our brackets, and certainly has some more work to do. They need to take care of business in this one because it’s a winnable conference road game. Penn State can be tough to beat at home and have given some pretty good teams really tough games, but all and all this is the kind of game Michigan State should be expected to win if they believe they’re a tournament team.

-RUTGERS AT PROVIDENCE (Big East). Providence really needs this win badly. They haven’t done much on the road and although they do have some nice wins at home, it still looks like they have quite a bit to do if they want to make the dance. Rutgers is not an NCAA Tourney team, so losing to them at home would be damaging to Providence, especially since they are pretty close to the bubble right now.

-ARIZONA STATE AT USC (Pac Ten). Arizona State is probably the worst team in the league, but they came close to upsetting UCLA in their last game. USC is coming off a huge win against Arizona, and doesn't want to follow that up by losing to a poor Arizona State team at home. They are a very solid tournament team right now.

-UNLV AT TCU (Mountain West). UNLV ended a two game winning streak with a big win against BYU, and needs to take care of business against a TCU team that is capable of playing pretty well at home. UNLV has a pretty good resume, but they don’t want to fall too far down the conference standings, especially since Air Force is the only other solid NCAA Tournament team in the league right now. That, and too many losses to non-tournament teams will damage their resume.

-SOUTH CAROLINA AT TENNESSEE (SEC). Tennessee has lost three in a row by two points or less. They are still a pretty solid team and it wasn’t as if they played poorly during that stretch, but they really need to snap out of it. South Carolina is not a strong team, and Tennessee needs to beat them at home.

-KANSAS AT TEXAS TECH (Big Twelve). Texas Tech is pretty close to the bubble in my bracket right now, but a win against Kansas would really boost their resume, as well as their seed. It's the kind of statement win that could really make a difference. Kansas is still in the hunt for a #1 seed and is playing very well right now. It won't be easy for them to win on the road in this game, though, but if they pull it off, it's a quality conference road win, which will certainly add to their already impressive resume.

-OLD DOMINION AT VCU (Colonial Athletic). Both of these teams have a shot at an at-large bid, but as of now they're both bubble teams at best. Old Dominion is very inconsistent. They've played some great basketball and beaten good teams in Drexel and Georgetown, but they are coming off to a loss to James Madison, who is nothing short of terrible. VCU is an impressive 15-3, but none of their wins have really come against quality teams. This is one of the better teams they've played all season and even though Old Dominion isn't solid, they're still better than most of VCU's schedule, so it's important that they take care of business at home. Another thing is that these two are very big rivals, so that adds another twist to the game. It's important off paper as well as on.

-TEXAS AT VILLANOVA. Villanova just got a much needed win against Notre Dame, and could really use another one against a very good Texas team. Texas has been playing excellent basketball and nearly beat Oklahoma State on the road, but fell to them in a triple overtime classic. They need to get over the hangover of such an emotional loss though, because they have another big road game today and yet another chance to get a quality road win. Nova probably needs this more than Texas. They're on the bubble and Texas looks a little more solid, but it would be a good win for either team.

-WASHINGTON AT WASHINGTON STATE (Pac Ten). Big rivalry here, but this year the roles are somewhat reversed. Washington has just one win and is on the outside looking in, whereas Wazzu is a strong tournament team. It is the kind of road win Washington desperately needs to get their season turned around. It would also be a feel good win as far as bragging rights are concerned. As for Wazzu, a team that has missed the tournament as many times as they have over the years doesn't want to add any losses to their resume.

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